By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Communication Director: In a recently released statement, a significant number of Nobel Laureates from diverse disciplines voiced their support for biotechnology -- better known in the public as GMOs (genetically modified organisms) -- and modern agriculture practices including precision agriculture. The group called on leaders of Greenpeace, the United Nations and governments around the world to join them.

To date, 110 Nobel Prize winners in fields including Medicine, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Literature and Peace have signed an open letter asking Greenpeace and others who have been blocking progress and access to beneficial plant biotechnology products, like Golden Rice, to abandon their campaigns against GMOs.

The campaign was launched on June 30th at a Washington, D.C. press conference by representative signers Sir Richard Roberts (1993 Nobel Laureate for Physiology or Medicine), Professor Martin Chalfie (2008 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry) and Professor Randy Schekman (2013 Nobel Laureate for Physiology or Medicine).

On their website, Support GMOS and Golden Rice, within their "What Are GMOs?" link they highlight in this graphic the difference between conventional plant breeding versus transgenic plant breeding. 

The website, Support GMOs and Golden Rice offers details on the Nobel Laureates' statement, list of signers and background on the benefits and safety of GMOs.

One of Arizona’s own was encouraged to see such an illustrious group come out in support of biotechnology. “This letter is yet another rational response from our world’s most recognized scientists to irrational, politically motivated non-science-based activism,” said Vice President of Agriculture, Life and Veterinary Sciences, and Cooperative Extension at the University of Arizona, Shane C. Burgess. “I believe our society has an ethical obligation to allow the billions of us who will benefit from transgenic crops to be able to choose to access them. I believe that these crops are key tools in maintaining the healthy ecosystems we need to use to grow our food. I agree with the sentiment in the last sentence of the letter. I believe it is as irresponsible to use transgenic crops, and these millions of people, as pawns in agenda-driven political activism as it is to deny these same people access to antibiotics. Antibiotics and transgenic crops are both simply biotechnology products. Just as the human and veterinary medical community has a professional and ethical obligation to use antibiotics responsibility, we in agriculture are equally obligated to use all of the state-of-the-art science that tells us how to use transgenic crops responsibly.”

Perhaps the most interesting link on Support GMOS and Golden Rice is the link that highlights Former Critics of GMOs Have Change of Heart. While the public may need bells and whistles to get engaged on today’s websites, the compelling feature of this effort is the group that came together to stand in support of biotechnology. Their statement and additional information is well worth the time it takes to read their petition.

Laureate Sir Richard Roberts stated, "In our letter we call upon Greenpeace and like organizations to end their shameful campaign of propaganda and criminal destruction of crops improved by modern genetic technologies, such as GMOs."  Roberts added, "We call on governments and world organizations to do everything in their power to oppose anti-GMO obstruction and to accelerate farmer access to the life-saving tools provided by modern biotechnology."

The Laureates urged policy makers, the public and others to come together and add their names to the list of signers and asked how many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a "crime against humanity."

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